labels: World economy
Walmart Canada changes logo, slashes prices news
14 February 2009

Walmart Canada said on Friday that it would slash prices on 20 per cent of its products, to woo customers in recessionary times. It also launched a new logo and slogan. The Canadian subsidiary of Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores said the slogan `Save money. Live better' takes effect next week.

The updated slogan brings it into line with its US parent, which has been using the slogan for about a year. "We saw it as a perfect fit for the Canadian market and the Canadian psyche," said Walmart Canada spokesman Kevin Groh. "For a lot of Canadians, saving money is living better and so we think it's a tagline that fits the Canadian consumer mind-set almost uniquely and perfectly."

The company also said the campaign would include an updated corporate logo in all of its advertising and stores. The logo eliminates the hyphen from the name Wal-Mart, and replaces the star that appears in the name. It also includes new colours and an asterisk-style spark at the end of the name.

Groh said the Canadian chain would roll back prices on products like electronics, apparel and food. He said the level of the price cuts would depend on the product.

From 'bad guys' to 'good guys': Wal-Mart has made notable progress in its efforts to improve its employee health care image. The world's largest company, vilified till recently for its stingy health benefits, has become an unexpected leader in the effort to provide affordable care without bankrupting employers, their workers or taxpayers in the process.

The company in recent years had come under sharp criticism from union-backed groups and others for trying to minimise health benefits for employees. For example, an internal memo in 2005 proposed that unhealthy people should be discouraged from applying for jobs at the retail giant.

There was also an infamous case where the company attempted to recoup hundreds of thousands of dollars from a brain-damaged former employee's accident settlement. That move was later aborted under general criticism.

Lately, however, Wal-Mart has been scoring points on the health care front. New figures released on Friday show that only 5.5 per cent of its employees now lack health insurance, compared with a nationwide rate of 18 per cent.

The company's $4 generic-drug programme has met with good response and has been copied by many other retailers. It has also considerably expanded the health coverage it offers.

Some of its positive moves include cutting the waiting period to enrol in the health plan; offering a wider variety of deductibles, co-pays and maximum out-of-pocket costs; and simplified enrolment. It has also introduced digital health records and started programmes like 'Life with Baby', aimed at cutting the rate of premature births among employees.

Many workers choose cheaper plans that have high deductibles, requiring them to pay more upfront for their care. The company offers some cash to help with that expense, and lots of workers, especially young ones, have signed on.

The company has also put into practice many of the innovations that experts say will lead to higher-quality, more efficient care. Wal-Mart has partnered with prestigious organisations such as the Mayo Clinic, and begun targeting costly health problems such as obesity and premature births.

But some workers say they still can't afford the coverage.


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Walmart Canada changes logo, slashes prices